Occupying the rolling hills above Port of Spain’s Maraval district and spreading back towards the north coast, the charming hillside community of Paramin seems a million miles from the hustle of the city streets laid out below. The area is known as the “herb basket of Trinidad” thanks to its many farmers, who have carved terraced plots into the precipitous peaks to grow the French and Spanish thyme, mint, celery and spring onions (here known as chives), used to make up the tied bundles sold in shops and markets throughout T&T, and blended into bottles of the green seasoning which flavours Trinbago cooking. The local population are descended from French Creoles who came to Trinidad in the colonial era, as well as Venezuelans who arrived in the nineteenth century to plant cocoa, and the close-knit but friendly community maintains many of its traditions, most famously in its parang bands, who travel from house to house during the Christmas season, singing nativity songs in a mix of French and Spanish. The Monday before Christmas, Paramin hosts a parang festival at the soccer field at the lower end of town, while on the afternoon of Carnival Monday, the town is overtaken by troupes of blue devils: traditional Carnival characters impersonating imps from hell, who dance through the streets demanding money from onlookers and daubing them with a little of their trademark blue – it’s the most anarchic display of Blue Devil mas you’ll see anywhere in the country.
Paramin has few specific sights, but the neatly tended hillsides of seasoning plants and the green-swathed mountains are superbly scenic and often swathed in mist; on clear days, there are many lovely views down to the sea, while the clear, clean air is fragrant and noticeably cooler than down on the flats. For the best of the views, head up to the mobile phone masts on Saut D’Eau Road.